Questions and Chaos

Life in the 21st Century

Virtual Reality is Here

Friday, June 3, 2016

Virtual Reality

A few days ago I was able to try out the HTC Vive virtual reality headset. Yes, the future is here and available in your living room. Put on the headset and adjust to fit. Add ear buds and I enter another world.

I find myself in a big warehouse space with white furniture while a talking basketball gives me instructions about how things work in virtual reality. The controllers become my hands. The blue lines show the edges of the virtual  reality. Don’t step past the blue lines or I may hit my shins on the furniture.

When I push a button on the controller it blows up a balloon that floats  to the ceiling. I can blow up red, green, yellow or blue balloons from the ends of my finger tips. The balloons float slowly upwards and when I pull the trigger I  shoot them down. I’m reminded not to push the controllers past the blue lines. My son is worried I may punch a hole in his television screen.

In another module, I  practice using my controller hands by throwing sticks  for a robotic dog. He fetches them and drops them at my feet.

Virtual Reality

My favourite program so far is TheBlu. The floor doesn’t move. Yes, this is where you introduce your grandmother to virtual reality. It’s fascinating first time around but could be boring without more interaction. TheBlu has three modules. The first is called Reef Migration. I’m standing on the ocean floor with sea anemones beside me  and various sea creatures above and all around me.  When I touch the sea anemones with the controller they close themselves up.

Click on photo to see better details

Click on photo to see better details

I am surrounded by schools of small fishes flitting everywhere. It feels like a little fish might go right up my nose. And then there are the jellyfish.
Jellyfish 1
Luminescent orange jellyfish everywhere.
Jellyfish 2
And gigantic jellyfish.
Jellyfish 3

I was so enamoured with jellyfish I almost missed the sea turtle completely.

The second module is Whale Encounter. Instead of standing on the sea bottom I am standing on the deck of a sunken ship.
A whale swims in from the distance.  It swims past the platform and looks me right in the eye. I’ve never been face to face with a whale, so perhaps I shouldn’t judge, but the whale somehow didn’t seem real. Still, it was a really good 3D movie whale.
And the stingrays floating overhead were beautiful.
The third module is called Luminous Abyss. I am walking on the sea floor littered with old whale bones. It is dark and I need to use the controller as a flashlight. Many scary things could happen when surrounded by darkness.  I am nervous but, here, it’s perfectly safe. Nothing jumps out at me.  I use the flashlight to look around the sea bed at the bones and the crabs, as small luminous jellyfish float by.
Small Jellyfish

I have to confess, on  the drive home the streets looked a little drab and ugly.  Really, with all of modern technology,  is this the best we can do?

When I went to sleep that night I was still seeing schools of orange jellyfish in my head.

There’s so much more to see.


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